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Filipina tells of family's horror, loss

Richmond care aid sending money back home, helping to fundraise

She may be more than 10,000 kilometres from her loved ones, but Gihan Kaus can feel their pain in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

It's been two weeks since the catastrophic storm made landfall in Tacloban, central Philippines, killing more than 5,000 people, with thousands more still missing.

But Kaus, a Filipina care aid at Fraserview Lodge on Williams Road, is still fearing for the safety of her sister and uncle after the family home in Visayas - which her late father built 32 years ago - was ripped to shreds by the devastating typhoon.

Kaus has been helping with fundraising efforts across Richmond and has been sending money back home to help her sister rebuild the family home on the island community.

"The walls are still standing and they're sleeping within them, with some kind of temporary cover," said Kaus, who immigrated to Canada in 2001 with her three young sons.

"It's the house we all grew up in and it's all but gone. Even our little banana plantation, that my sister lives off, is gone.

"At least they have some kind of cover though; many of the neighbours have nothing, their homes are completely buried by sand from the sea." Reliving the first few hours and days after the typhoon struck, Kaus went through a rollercoaster of emotions, thinking her family was OK to realizing some of them were staring the storm in the eye.

"I was at work when I first heard the storm was a signal No. 2, which I thought would be fine," she said.

"But by the time I got home, I heard it was a No. 4. I tried calling my mom but she was in Manila (which was relatively unscathed). I tried calling my sister but I couldn't get through.

"Three days later, I finally spoke to her and she was hysterical and crying, she said the house had gone.

"During the storm, she was huddled in the washroom with my uncle, a family friend and their children. All they could hear was smashing and everything was shaking, she said."

Kaus was hoping to take time out from her shift on Thursday evening to help with Fraserview's own fundraising event for the Philippines - a charity yoga night.

"It's wonderful what people are doing to help families like my own back home, I really appreciate it," said Kaus.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Philippine government says reconstruction costs could come to as much as $6 billion across the country.

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